Tag Archives: case study

This past week, I travelled to the Communitech building in Kitchener-Waterloo to interview co-founders, Jesse Lubin and Andrew Ringer, about one of Communitech’s most promising start-ups, Alaunus, currently headquartered in the Communitech Hub in the heart of the innovation district in downtown Kitchener, Ontario. Alaunus is a 3 ½ year-old startup, founded by UW computer science grad, Jesse Lubin, and Laurier BBA grad, Andrew Ringer. Alaunus has been formally involved in the Laurier Launchpad, Accelerator Centre, and Communitech’s Rev programs, and is described as an emerging leader in technology-enabled homecare solutions, and is keen to disrupt the $227.5 billion in-home health care industry. Alaunus is a next-generation practice management platform, reimagined for today’s mobile homecare Personal Service Worker (PSW) providers. Lubin, the Chief Technical Officer, has designed the technology that innovates at every step how mobile healthcare is coordinated, delivered, and managed. The proprietary software offers its (for the most part, Temp) agency client base across Ontario the abilities to operate highly efficiently, differentiate their temporary-tenured homecare PSWs (aka contingent workers), and to grow the respective agency’s customer base. Alaunus’s complete, simple, and revolutionary platform becomes the backbone of the temp agency’s back-office. Alaunus’s technology manages day-to-day client files, scheduling/rostering, and billing for the temp agency. Alaunus accurately tracks time and visit verification at the point of care, automates intelligent invoice generation and payroll, – all in one place. Patient privacy has strict compliance mandates and Alaunus adheres to them all. Alaunus is built from the ground-up with industry best-practice encryption, user management, and privacy. The official Alaunus App is “bring-your-own-device” friendly. Its platform infrastructure boasts state-of-the-art security standards, redundancy, backups, and is 100% PHIPA, HIPAA, and HITECH compliant. PSW customer feedback about its mobile app has been enthusiastic: Andrew G  I really like the phone app of Alaunus. It works very well with the desktop software. Highly recommend it.  Ben Fluter Great resource for caregivers and makes work much easier. This app makes it so much easier to get to clients, take notes, and it even states safety precautions.

Traditional marketing isn’t what it used to be.  Most people are no longer as susceptible to, or trusting of what they’re being sold.  According to a recent study, 84% of Millenials do not trust or like traditional advertising.  Yet, everywhere you look, almost any and every little available space tends to be plastered with an advertisement of some kind.   So how do you break through this resistance and connect with your target market in an authentic and lasting way?  Ipsy has found a way. Ipsy is a personalized makeup subscription service available online that sends users monthly bags filled with different and personalized cosmetic products.  Here’s more about what it is and how it started: “Michelle Phan has inspired countless women around the world through her beauty video tutorials on YouTube. Every day, the question Michelle gets asked the most is: “What are the right products for me?”  With infinite beauty product combinations in the marketplace, choosing the best items for your needs can be a challenge! That was why Michelle created ipsy. Michelle and her team of stylists have selected products they love, for you to try.  Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using.” 

You may have heard about Snapchat, the mobile app that allows users to capture videos and pictures that appear for a maximum of 10 seconds, and then it disappears. This instant messaging app created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown became increasingly popular within a few months of its launch and is now a leading platform for social media. What is more interesting is how Snapchat itself uses social media in its day-to-day functioning. The increase of social media in today’s society has led to an increase in opportunities organization-wide collaboration and sharing information, which is exactly how Snapchat has taken advantage of social media. It ‘s hard to know how businesses will use social media in the future; however, there are a few predictions about how Snapchat will possibly use social media in its next phases of evolution.

Nowadays social media marketing has become incredibly important for businesses all sizes. One reason behind marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new platforms, networks and apps. Another reason are people, who use social media to create, publish and share content. The same people are consumers, who share their thoughts about their experiences and are looking for new ones. So what does the future hold for the world of social media?

Over the past few weeks, I have shared how start-up Flashstock has benefitted from social media to stay engaged with customers, employees, and even improve product development and operations which all contribute to driving business performance across the company. Our marketing team has focused its efforts on using social media as it’s the main platform because of the relative ease of use, low cost, and data-rich insight. Start-ups find social media marketing really efficient. At the beginning, most brands are looking to just create community and brand awareness. With existing networks built into Facebook and Instagram, for example, and almost 2.5 billion active monthly users combined, gives marketers unprecedented access to consumers and data. The platforms are free to join and provide simple to use interfaces that don’t take as much effort as a website to manage. With all of these active users, marketers also get great access to data that tells them everything they need about their target audience.    

Nowadays online video content is a big part of social media. According to Cisco Forecast video will represent 80% of all consumer-based Internet traffic by 2019. So there is no surprise that businesses spend more money on video advertisement. According to Business Insider video will account for 41% of total desktop display-related spending in 2020. The two top platforms for video advertisement are Youtube and Facebook. In January 2016, Facebook announced that people watch 100 million of hours of video a day. In February 2016, Google’s CEO reminded its investors that Youtube users watch hundreds of millions of hours of video a day. It was indirectly pointed out that Youtube users watch more videos than Facebook users. So what is the difference between Youtube and Facebook?

Social Media has played an important role in the growth of modern businesses. Due to the massive shift in global digitization, companies have been arming themselves with teams of people who monitor social channels, the performance of their brand and ROI of advertising dollars across channels such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinerest and more. With 700 million active daily users, Instagram alone, combined with the exponential growth of other social channels, continues to be a draw for consumers and businesses alike. Since social media channels provide this convergence of consumers and brands, it makes it quite easy for marketers to start to collect data on the habits of consumers and serve up relevant and engaging content. Sometimes referred to as KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators, this data has mostly been used for reactive purposes. This type of data can help marketers and product developers understand what specifically drives customer engagement. Questions frequently ask include, was it a picture that was shared and was it a piece of literature sharing key information that served an audience. Listening to what consumers want and serving them up when they want it is a great way to connect and build brand awareness and ultimately help grow the business. Monitoring the positives does not go without measuring the negatives or the “risks” to achieving business objectives. Social Media KRI’s can also be very helpful in understanding how to quickly adjust based on operational, financial, strategic, and regulatory risks. This significantly can improve how a business weathers a storm as well.  

How would a museum know if it is successful? How would it measure success? The Mission Statement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”), founded on April 13, 1870, and the largest museum in the US, states, “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction”. [1]. Daniel Weiss, president and chief operating officer of The Met, believes museums must remain relevant to a contemporary audience while upholding a mission to preserve human culture for posterity. In an interview with Yale Insights, Weiss articulated the challenges of steering America’s largest art institution, “We have to change with the times but not so much so that we lose our way … if no one is interested in our programs, then they are not meaningful programs.”  [2]. Part of the challenge managing a cultural legacy like The Met is its non-profit structure. From its 2016 Annual Report [3], philanthropic contributions have endowed the museum with about $2.5 billion. The building is owned by the City of New York (NYC), but the collections are owned by a private corporation, totalling about 950 persons. The City approved a pay-what-you-wish [4] admissions’ fee back in 1970 ($25 per visitor is recommended but a penny would comply with the City’s policy) which contributed only about 13% of 2016 revenue. However, The Met’s operating budget is about $250 million per year. Its use of performance metrics (measuring overall attendance, the number of museum members, the marketability of exhibits, the percentage of the collection on display, the ratio of adult to child admissions, etc.) are not used to plan for an increase in ROI; instead, they are used to measure its kinds of connections with the public.  “Museums create social values, for which they are not compensated in monetary terms.” [5]. The Met is deeply integrated within the life of New York City, its donors, and the art world. It plays a substantial role in New Yorkers’ leisure activities and is one of NYC’s most important tourist attractions. As visitors have a strong effect on local economies, especially in touristic locations, The Met monitors the number… Read more »

Supply chain management (SCM) relies on, at its core, people talking to people.  Working with vendors, coordinating shipments and carriers, buying stock, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels, forecasting what end users may be looking to purchase in the future – every step of the way involves communication between one party and another. “Social networking is not about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of managing and executing supply chain processes.”  “What is needed [in a dynamic business environment] is a supply chain of rapid response…Many people who work in the materials business [and] talk about supply chains and the speed of supply chains [have historically] thought about systems talking to systems across enterprises and about processes. But in reality, the speed of the chain is not really related to the systems used by the various companies—it’s all about people, and people talking to people”

At FlashStock, operational efficiency is key to the growth and success of the company. Our core product is custom images and videos taken by our network of global contributors which is delivered to brands around the world through our machine learning technology. Even with this automation, we need to ensure that the customer is properly managed throughout the customer lifecycle. Having better insight into the process, through the collection and use of data, allows FlashStock to scale resources as needed for all client project sizes, effectively manage the pipeline of business, and ensure the proper management of those resources for optimal productivity. Some say having a well-oiled supply chain is a key competitive advantage. FlashStock views the supply chain as key for tracking and measuring that we are going above and beyond for our clients delivering what we promised.

To a child of the ’80s it still seems unbelievable that vacations today are researched and booked almost exclusively online. I remember visiting travel agencies with my parents. I can recall flipping through the glossy pages of snazzy magazines, always trying to sneak that Disney booklet into a place of prominence on the agent’s desk. I can picture how every “Sunshiny Holidays” guide was divided into country-specific sections, and hotels had a single picture depicting what they were all about. One picture. That was all. To help with the limited visuals were 5-7 sentence descriptions written by the proprietors themselves. So you’d thumb through the guide, gaze at the photos and dutifully try to convince your parents to choose the spot with the best-looking pool. All the while the agent typed away on her keyboard, telling you what was available and at what price. It felt like a simpler time, even if it was a comparatively powerless one for consumers.  Alas, I won’t be offering the same memories to my kids (hey!…remember when Mom spent 4 hours staring at her cellphone reading reviews for our one-day getaway to Great Wolf Lodge?). The limited technological sophistication available “back then” unfortunately meant very limited access to accurate, reliable information when booking a holiday. Transforming the Industry The transformation of the Tourism & Hospitality industry caused by the influence and upsurge of social media is nothing short of astounding. Approximately one-fifth of leisure travelers worldwide turn to social media platforms for inspiration within different categories of their travel planning including: Hotels (23%)  Vacation activities (22%)   Attractions (21%)  Restaurants (17%). Along with these sweeping changes, the Travel Marketing Industry has had to adapt to the ever-shifting landscape, finding innovative ways for determining how to create desirable experiences, and secure a high number of bookings. As early as 2011, Ryan McElroy, a recognized leader in the travel and hospitality industry, discovered that many travel agencies were still operating from old blueprints. They were missing opportunities to generate bookings because they weren’t harnessing the social media and digital platforms available. As a solution, McElroy created Travel Agency Tribes. Travel Agency Tribes is a SaaS (software as a service) company that creates all the technology required to make a travel agency’s online presence dynamic, easy to update, and adept at crossing all the new channels that today’s savvy travel consumer expects. This Canadian company has its ear firmly glued to the ground. It’s leveraging the very best that social media… Read more »

      Companies are like sharks – they have to keep moving or die; develop new products and services or improve existing ones. Without evolving product innovation, companies and products like Blockbuster and USBdrives can just wither away. A paradigm shift has happened In product development and innovation. Where once businesses marketed to their customers via broadcast channels (TV, radio, and print), now businesses broadcast using social media, highly interactive platforms which allow individuals, communities, and business to collectively share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. Social media has become a gigantic global focus group petrie dish, including blogs (Blogger), microblogging (Twitter), collaborative wiki-projects (Wikipedia), forums (Harley Davidson), professional networking sites (LinkedIn), social networks (Facebook, Google+), photographs (Instagram), and videos (YouTube) 1. What is the genesis for new or improved product ideas for business? It’s called “Open Innovation”2, a concept fathered by Henry Chesbrough, and is defined as “The formal discipline and practice of leveraging the discoveries of unobvious others as input for the innovation process through formal and informal relationships (it is the informal relationship that constitutes this innovativeness of open innovation)”. Companies are actively embracing Open Innovation, and they are relying on social media to help them generate, incubate, and give birth to new and refined products through an intricate complementary process of data-gathering, analysis, and customer communication. But what new tasks, disciplines, and organizational restructuring must communication professionals need now to consider turning Open Innovation into measurable and repeatable ROI on product innovation? Today, multi-national firms rarely innovate alone – there is a dynamic interactive process within innovative organizations to establish networks between internal and external entities, particularly in new product development3. More businesses are relying on “co-creation” to develop new or enhance existing products. The term, “co-creation”, signifies an active, creative and social collaboration process, facilitated by the company, between customers and company department producers. Customer co-creation, in short, is open innovation with customers. The idea of co-creation is to actively involve customers in the design or development of future offerings, often with the help of tools that are provided by the firm. Many excellent examples of case studies on social media’s impact on customer co-creation can be found in the University of Waterloo’s Social Media for Business Performance archives: Starbucks Ideas, Dell Computers, Dorrito’s, to name a few. But to create value from social media co-creation, firms have to develop dedicated processes to analyze its benefit… Read more »

“Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.” – Clarabridge. Customer engagement has always been at the core of any successful business.   Making sure that the people your organization is trying to reach feel cared for and connected to your brand keeps you at the forefront of their mind whenever they are in need of a particular good or service.  And nowhere is an engaged customer base more important than in the case of a natural disaster.   However when you think of emergency services, you may not immediately think of the people they serve as “customers.”   After all, we typically refer to “customers” as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.”  But, without spending money, people rely on the Red Cross, and the Red Cross relies on people for a very vital and essential service.

Dubai Autodrome circuit is one of the most modern in the world; it is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. The venue is part of the Union Properties Motor city development in the greater Dubai and area. Track experiences give the chance to sample race cars and super-cars through the Race & Drive Center – a perfect place to hone skills and develop better driving abilities.

Direct Sales has never been a business for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. Stella & Dot creator Jessica Herrin succinctly expressed this sentiment in a 2016 Forbes interview where she noted the huge ‘ick’ factor associated with the industry. Direct Sales may get a bad rap because of its potential for people to feel locked-in by high quotas, awkward customer engagement strategies and defined territorial boundaries. However, by adopting a social selling approach that’s creatively coupled with the most visually engaging social media tools, Stella & Dot  has positively re-shaped the image of direct sales in the jewelry and accessories realm. Under Herrin’s leadership, Stella & Dot is an indisputably profitable enterprise with $300 million in revenues. The company has also paid some $300 million in commissions to more than 50,000 stylists, who keep up to 35% of the value of sales they make. Herrin’s successful approach is an example of how to lead with product, be customer-obsessed and leverage technology.  How has Stella & Dot managed to bring these three elements together so masterfully, and which technologies are incorporated into its social selling approach?

Emco is a wholesale and retail plumbing supplier with highly sophisticated B2B clients doing multi-million dollar projects, and also has many ordinary B2C folk who just need a new faucet for their bathroom reno. How does a conglomerate like Emco engage their diverse customer base through social media, and, how effective is Emco’s social media customer engagement? There are two types of B2B Emco customers. Let’s consider the “3 bids and a buy” customer who calls late Friday afternoon for a price comparison. Sure, the customer is just price shopping, but Emco’s local branch will gladly fill out the RFP (Request for Proposal) and email it back promptly. They’ll follow-up conscientiously, but they know only the lowest price wins with this particular client, and this time, it may not be in Emco’s best interests to match the competitor’s lowest price as margins, ROI, and the intrinsic cost of time necessary to get this sale may not fall within their sales formula. Emco’s sales professionals know that selling on lowest price isn’t going to create an ongoing sales relationship. Emco wants all their customer’s business, and they are highly motivated to take a lot of time to cultivate multiple personal contacts to develop deep customer engagement, often requiring complicated engineering solutions to alleviate their customer’s pain points along the way. Emco’s mantra is “Get your customer out of pain”, and much like the intimate relationship between a doctor and his patient, Emco works fiercely to foster strong customer relationships based on person-to-person meetings, expertise, collaboration, and transparency formulated on correct customer problem diagnosis and resolution. Emco’s core belief: develop mutual respect and confidence based on providing solutions, and the customer–corporate relationship will have deep roots, based on mutual trust, and will have long-lasting mutual value. Sometimes, that makes their products more expensive than their competitors’, but for a large B2B customer working on a multi-million dollar project, it’s getting the job done on time, and within budget that matters most. Is it even significant then, if the customer pays a few dollars more for Emco’s product if that special valve to finish this vital stage can arrive on-site tomorrow? Suppose there’s a crew of engineers stuck out in the field, ground to a halt in BC’s interior, because they can’t move on without that specialty item. The clock is ticking and time is money – big money. Often, taking the time… Read more »

TripAdvisor is a good example of how to build successful business and sustain YoY growth by customers’ usage and engagement. Once a website for hotel reviews, TripAdvisor became an online place where customers can plan and book nearly everything for their trip: starting with accommodation, restaurants, guiding tours etc. Nowadays, TripAdvisor provides both its customers: businesses and travelers, a platform to socialize. Travelers share their experiences via reviews and businesses have an option to respond directly to the traveler. TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel sites that offers advice from millions its users. With 465 million reviews, covering 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions in 49 markets worldwide, TripAdvisor is branded the largest travel community in the world. TripAdvisor attracts 390M unique visitors every month, more than 280 reviews are submitted to the website every minute and more than 10 000 businesses are added to the website and apps every week.

Nowadays, social media is part of our daily life. People want to share their everyday experiences with others: they study and work in different cities, they fall in love and relocate to different countries, traveling becomes the normality for leisure and for business, a quiet month in your hometown is an exception. Social media allows us to stay connected with our families and friends; it allows to share our experiences, no matter where we are. Social media also serves as a platform for new opportunities. Businesses advertise new positions and promote their products, employees of the companies re-post and share information with their peers. The best insights for the business of an organization are gained from the inside of that very same organization. Many companies understand this and try to use social media to tap this potential. For global companies with different offices around the world, social media is also an opportunity to connect and engage with current employees. Booking.com is one such international company that uses public Social Media in different ways: it (1) engages with current and future employees by posting the latest news about the company, (2) promotes new positions, (3) engages current employees to share their experiences about the roles, the cities they live and work in, and their experience of relocating to a different country or a new city for a new position, (4) share their passion for traveling.

Hicham Abu Baker, A Jordanian guy who has visited more than 15 countries in Europe, Africa, and East Asia, touring local coffee roasters and houses and spending hundreds of hours tasting specialty coffees and experiencing different coffee cultures. Then he decided to establish a state of art specialty coffee roasters  in Jordan, that competes with international brands. His roaster is one of a kind, proudly 100% made with passion in Jordan.

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within them.” — Dr. Bob Nelson, Employee Engagement Expert (http://www.egroupengage.com/blog/social-media-to-increase-employee-engagement) It’s no secret – the Vega team is definitely lit from within.  With a strong set of internal values and a workforce that lives and breathes those values, it is unsurprising that Vega was named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada for six years running and this year nabbed the prestigious title of #1 Best Workplace in Canada 2017.  How does an organization like Vega secure its place at the top?  It starts with a connected community of likeminded people.

“I think that [social media] will be more integrated into everything. As you think further down the road, I don’t think that there’s going to be something called social media that people will be talking about in 30 years. I’m not even sure if people will be talking about it in five years.” – Ellie Wheeler, Greycroft Partners, Principal Social Media’s future is being shaped by such emerging technological trends as wearable electronic devices and activity tracker applications. Both FitBit wearable activity tracker device and iFit fitness application for treadmills are actively engaged in building social communities on-line, making them an integral part of the overall experience.

In his article ao.com: setting an example in social media strategy, Chris Price states that AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) “knows more than most about the power of social media.”  The UK based company was founded in 2000 in by CEO John Roberts. According to the their website, the story goes like this:  “Following a drink with a friend, CEO John Roberts bets him a pound that he could change the way white goods [aka household appliances] are purchased via the internet. The AO business is born as DRL Limited.” Fast forward to 2016: AO.com expands into the Netherlands with the launch of AO.nl, is named Best UK Retailer of the Year 2016 by Verdict Retail, is awarded the Customer Experience Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2016, and is ranked #1 in the Retail Week/Glassdoor Top 15 Retails to work for in 2016. And these are just the latest in a string of awards the company has received. As Andrew Kirkcaldy, who is currently the Group Brand Director at AO.com, admits to Price, “We have to think a little out of the box because white goods aren’t the sexiest of things to create content around.”  And at AO.com, thinking out of the box comes to life through an impressive social media strategy that touches virtually all areas of the business.

TELUS is a Canadian communications company that was officially founded in 1990. Since then, the company has grown to become Canada’s fastest growing national telecommunications company. TELUS provides services to 8.6 million wireless subscribers, 1.7 million high-speed internet subscribers, 1.4 million residential network access lines subscribers and 1 million television subscribers. Telus also provides communication products and services, which include wireless data, Internet Protocol, voice, television, entertainment and video and it’s also the nation’s largest healthcare IT provider. The success of TELUS can be credited to their company ideology. The TELUS slogan is “The Future is Friendly” and the company incorporates this ideology into each aspect of their brand. TELUS is known for their cheeky use of ‘cute’ animals throughout their branding and marketing campaigns to emphasize their slogan; but they also take many other measures to ensure the continued success of the company and to demonstrate their loyalty in providing excellent service to their customers. TELUS is active on a number of different social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn. They also have a company blog and an online discussion forum for customers called the Neighbourhood, that allows customers to “Share thoughts, ask questions, and get answers. All in one place.”

ISCAR Tools is an industry leading producer of precision carbide metalworking tools and inserts. Iscar provides a wide range of innovative carbide inserts, carbide endmills and cutting tools to tackle most metal cutting applications. They are also globally renowned for providing top notch engineering and manufacturing solutions  for a wide variety of major industries such as automotive, aerospace and die & mold production. To reach this level of success, it takes more than just providing a quality product to the market, you need to to be well rounded in all aspects of business. More importantly, you need to be able to manage and integrate all segments of your organizational hierarchy. When it comes to social media integration on a global scale, this is no easy task.    

An infographic on HighQ.com proclaims 2017 to be “the year of video marketing”. It states that this year, online video will account for 74% of all web traffic. Here are a few other metrics from the infographic  that make a compelling case for video content: 500 million people are watching Facebook videos every day Snapchatters watch 10 billion videos a day 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI In the blog post The Future of Social Media (And How To Prepare For It), author Ash Read provides the following takeaway from Buffer’s research report The State of Social 2016:  “Right now, video is hot and is standing out… But that won’t always be the way. As video creeps up in popularity and more and more brands and individuals are sharing it, it’ll be harder to get noticed.” One way of getting your video content noticed is by using aerial tech – using drones to capture or stream your video from a novel point of view. And one product that is promising to make this kind of tech more accessible is Selfly.